Helping a Person With Dementia Live at Home Longer
By Steve Toll, care enhancement specialist
According to a study by AARP most older adults want to continue living at home. Under the right conditions, people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can stay at home until the end of life, enjoying the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings.
We teach families across the country about dementia care best practices through our DementiaWise® program. One common question we receive is, “How can I tell when it’s time to send my parent/spouse/sibling to live in a memory care unit?”
Our answer often surprises them: Their loved ones don’t necessarily ever have to move away. Here is some information you can share with families when they are considering whether a person with dementia can continue to live at home.
- Your loved one can live at home as long they can be kept safe. Safety awareness becomes compromised over the course of several types of dementia. Therefore, the environment has to be modified to compensate for this lack of safety awareness. Even with 24/7 supervision, this is important – every caregiver needs to step away to go to the bathroom or answer the doorbell. Removing potential hazards throughout the house allows the person living with dementia to be more independent indoors. If they want to go outside alone, wandering prevention approaches, such as a fenced yard or alert devices, should be in place. The goal is to help the person living with dementia to feel safe and for families to know that their loved one is secure.
- Your loved one can live at home if the necessary care and supervision can be provided. This includes using dementia care best practices at all times. If you hire additional help, you will want to schedule sufficient hours so the caregiver can develop and maintain a good relationship with your loved one. This positive relationship combined with proper dementia care approaches allows care tasks to be done with less resistance and more enjoyment.
- Your loved one can live at home as long as possible, including through the end of life. Unless there is a high level of skilled nursing care needed – daily tasks the family cannot handle – the person living with dementia can age in place at home. Palliative and hospice care services may increase both lifespan and quality of life. Excellent daily care should include opportunities for socializing and meaningful activities as well as awareness of the changing needs of the person, especially at the end of life. Most meaningful activities can be modified to address the person’s level of function throughout the progression of the condition.
- Move them only when a memory unit or skilled nursing facility is a better environment than home. There are circumstances where a move can be best. This might include a situation where there are advanced medical needs or a home that cannot be made safe.
If you know someone who could benefit from in-home dementia care support, contact At Your Side Home Care.
Through our DementiaWise program, we have caregivers who are specially trained to engage and enhance the lives of those with dementia, while providing support and education for the family.
Services are available for a few hours a day up to 24 hours a day, including holidays.